Why Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer is Better Than Representing Yourself in Court
People may choose to represent themselves in court because they want full control over their case. But representing yourself can be very problematic.
There are millions of people who take a “do it yourself” attitude toward home improvement, but the DIY approach is surprisingly common in the courts as well. According to the Self-Represented Litigation Network, approximately 60 percent of people in civil claims go to court without a lawyer.
People may choose to represent themselves (known as appearing pro se) because they want full control over their case, worry that hiring an attorney will be too expensive, or fear that an attorney will get the bulk of the award in a settlement or verdict. But just as a DIY home improvement job can turn into a disaster if you don’t have the proper knowledge, representing yourself in court can be very problematic.
Here’s why working with the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can be more beneficial than handling a claim by yourself.
Not every pro se claim can, or should, go to court.
You cannot represent yourself when filing a claim on behalf of a business or child, or when representing a class in a class action lawsuit. These types of claims all require representation by an attorney.
Pro se plaintiffs may have trouble looking at their claim objectively. If you’ve been injured in an accident and believe it was due to the negligence of another party, you’ll naturally believe you have a legitimate claim. However, not every personal injury provides grounds for a claim. A personal injury attorney can take an objective look at the circumstances of your case to see if you have a case.
Attorneys have the expertise to handle your claim
You have the right to represent yourself in court, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. While the state provides resources to assist pro se litigants, even these guides can be imposing — such as the densely worded 21-page guide for self-represented litigants from the U.S. District Court of Connecticut or the 129-page manual on electronic filing from the Connecticut Judicial Branch.
Personal injury claims are complex; even knowing where to file, or whom to file a claim against, can be a tricky matter. Pro se plaintiffs also need to be aware of matters like court procedures, case law, and legal precedents. They’re more likely to make mistakes, which could easily lead to the dismissal of their case — especially if the opposing party is represented by a skilled attorney.
Pro se plaintiffs must undertake the entire process themselves; judges and court clerks are not allowed to give them any legal advice. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you’ll be represented by someone who is knowledgeable in the law and will argue on your behalf.
Attorneys take on the hard work involved in a claim
Handling a personal injury claim is complicated. Some of the steps involved in a typical claim include investigating the legal claims, gathering evidence like witness statements and medical records, preparing legal briefs, and filing motions. Anyone representing themselves in court must also be willing to make all necessary appearances before a judge. If the claim goes to trial, they’ll need to take on tasks like jury selection, delivering arguments, and questioning witnesses.
Handling a personal injury claim is also expensive. The average plaintiff also has limited time and resources to argue a claim – especially if they are recovering from an injury and have diminished earning capacity due to an accident. Attorneys, in addition to guiding and assisting you throughout the process, can spend the necessary resources on investigating your claim and hiring necessary experts to assist in your claim.
Attorneys obtain larger settlements and verdicts
Most personal injury attorneys, including the team at Anderson Trial Lawyers, operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that they only get paid if they obtain a settlement or verdict, receiving a portion of the damages awarded as their fee.
Even after this fee is accounted for, settlements and verdicts tend to be larger in cases represented by attorneys than they are in cases with pro se plaintiffs. Pro se plaintiffs are more likely to ask for too low a settlement or accept an insufficient settlement; they can also reduce their chances of a fair settlement by overestimating their losses.
Attorneys are particularly skilled and experienced in calculating fair and reasonable compensation. These calculations will take into consideration both economic damages (which reimburse the client for costs such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic damages (which compensate the client for pain, physical and emotional suffering, and the effect injuries have on a person’s day to day life) as well as punitive damages (which serve as a deterrent against further irresponsible actions by the defendant or similar parties).